What field guides do you bring with you on outings

Before getting into iNaturalist what field guides to take with me was so easy to get wrong. I brought field guides I didn’t need and wished I brought the one I left at home. Or I took too many and was burdened by the weight that sometimes makes my lower back hurt.

Last couple of years, I usually take my camera and often my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide.

Currently I am playing around with the idea of carrying all my laminated fold-out guides, perhaps buying some new ones or even making my own. In terms of making my own, one on odonata would be useful – specifically of terminal ends that cameras get easily see (I would be producing it only for myself as I would be using copyrighted materials). Problem is, laminated guides, although light can at times be difficult to remove from my pouch.

What field guides to you bring with you into the field, if any?

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If I’m moving somewhere for a long time I take everything that can be useful for the region, for usual field days I bring none, most of useful guides nowadays are in form of pdf or djvu, so it’s easier to get a phone if they’re needed, but personally I just record as much as I can, all angles that are possible, and if it will be an id fail next time I’ll do even more shots.

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I don’t bring any field guides with me! Typically after a day of outing I would resort to flicking through various online sources, my books, and of course iNat to find reasonable identifications of the subjects I photographed.

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I never do anymore, I just make sure I take A LOT of pictures.

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Camera and guides on the PLACE, rather than guides on species… I will read guides on taxa before I go so I get a heads up on characters to try and capture in photographs, and will use them when I get back to unravel what it was that I got photographs of… But on the trip I would prioritise spare batteries and good snacks over the weight of most guidebooks

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In the 1990s, for any trip into the Sydney sandstone country, I’d take Les Robinson’s “Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney”…first published in 1987, now in its third edition. It is simply the best-conceived guide, using major plant groupings and keys, strong on local distributional detail and interesting historical asides, and ultimately focused on refining a plant to the visible distinguishing essentials, every plant illustrated by hand. It manages to be a very personal work that is totally authoritative such is the quality of the hand-drawing, and the obvious familiarity the author had developed with each plant.
The hand drawing approach was likely followed given the low quality and high cost of photographic reproduction in general publication.

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For many of us, the digital camera has largely replaced the need to carry field guides anymore. I still use the guides, but back at home or office when reviewing photos.

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I dont bring field guides anymore, just my field notebook, a geology hand lense, a tape measure ribbon, a gps and the cellphone for pics. I do the identification at home when the blackflies, the deerflies or the mosquitoes are not eating me and the dogs alive.

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[Only relevant for Sydney, Australia iNatters]

Hear, hear! I frequently use “Robbo” for Sydney and the lower Blue Mountains.

Other print publications I use are the general book:

Fairley, Alan & Moore, Philip, 2010, Native plants of the Sydney region . 3rd edition, Crows Nest NSW, Jacana Books

and these devoted to certain plant groups:

Hanisch, Sabine & Ben, 2017, Native orchids of the Blue Mountains . The authors

Klaphake, Van, 2012 , Eucalypts of the Sydney region . 3rd edition. Byabarra NSW, Van Klaphake

Klaphake, Van, 2007 , Guide to the grasses of the Blue Mountains . 2nd edition. Byabarra NSW, Van Klaphake

Klaphake, Van, 2004 , Key to the commoner species of sedges and rushes of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. 4th edition. Byabarra NSW, Van Klaphake

Richardson, F.J., Richardson, R.G. & Shepherd, R.C.H., 2016, Weeds of the south-east: an identification guide for Australia . 3rd edition. The authors

If there is phone reception, I use PlantNet http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/ (from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney) for its keys, descriptions and distribution notes.

I’m trying out some of the online keys powered by Lucid – with mixed success:

Euclid: eucalypts of Australia

https://keys.lucidcentral.org/search/euclid-eucalypts-of-australia-fourth-edition/

Wattle: Acacias of Australia

https://apps.lucidcentral.org/wattle/text/intro/index.html

Rainforest Plants of Australia

https://rainforestplantsofaustralia.com/

But, like most of you it seems, unless I have a particular focus for my walk, I now often go bookless into the bush, take lots of photos and consult these resources when I get home.

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I always keep a half dozen or more field guides in the car, and then carry two or three of the most critical ones with me when hiking. More if I’m on vacation in a new spot! I hate to go anywhere without one of Jeffrey Glassberg’s butterfly guides and my Peterson bird guide (still my favorite), and I’ve usually got one of my dragonfly guides and Beadle and Leckie’s moth guide…

They’re heavy, awkward, inconvenient… and I would feel utterly naked without them.

Welcome to the forum!

I also carry around a Peterson’s field guide, North American birds all year round and flowers when it isn’t winter.

One of my favorite guides is Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast by Peter del Tredici.


It’s a fantastic survey of the “weedy” plants (a few native, but mostly the European imports from the colonial days and the more recent [19th/20th century] Asian transplants) that have become ubiquitous in the Northeast US and some other parts of the US. Del Tredici includes images of these plants growing out of sidewalk cracks, in sidewalk strips, and abandoned parking lots. Growing up in suburban sprawl, I was always fascinated by these often-reviled species, so I was thrilled to find this book that highlighted them and told their stories. Highly recommended if you’re in the Northeast US.

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